Wall Drug

Thanks to a certain mammoth sized department store, any retail presence that begins with the sound “WAL…” gives me a gag reflex.

I was relieve to find out however that Wall Drug spells their name with two “L”s and is actually a famous little drug store in South Dakota that turned celebrity somehow. I still don’t understand it.

Yes, it’s a neat wooden place with lots of old decorations and animal heads, plastic oversized Jack-a-lopes, and tourists snapping pictures of anything that will hold still for them. The reality is that it is a bunch of souvenir shops and ice creams joints under one roof that are laid out to look like an Old West type of place. Plastered over every inch of the compound are signs giving the distance to Wall Drug in placed like Afghanistan, Iraq, even the South Pole!

Why are people so inspired by this place that they think about it while dodging land mines or exploring some place as exotic as the South Pole? I have no idea. Sure, the ice cream was good….but not THAT good. Unless you desperately need to stock up on your plastic jack-a-lopes or South Dakota shot glasses, this place holds very little for the average person.

There was a nice little chapel set up for wanderers and nomads and it even had a sign “welcome travelers.” I loved the concept…it was just like some of the small temples in Asia. There is no preacher, choir, agenda, or set worship times…just a place to go and be.

The highlight of this stop was overhearing three girls speaking Russian in one of the shops. Since I can’t miss an opportunity to make an ass out of myself in another language, I did my best to start up a conversation with them in my pitiful Russian and introduced myself. Their eyes widened and their mouths dropped open. Either I had accidentally just called their mothers a vacuum cleaner in their language (yes, my Russian is that bad) or they hadn’t heard a tourist attempt their native tongue in a while.

We played back and forth until it was obvious that I was going to have to start asking them things like “where is the bus stop” or better yet “where is the toilet?” since my vocabulary is entirely travel oriented. It turns out that lots of Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and even Bulgarian students have chosen this place as an exchange stop during the summer.

I really hope that Wall Drug isn’t their only impression of American life that they get before going home to tell people that we all wear cowboy hats, carry cameras around our necks, and eat ice cream every meal!

Hey baby…wanna go vagabonding?

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One Response to “Wall Drug”

  1. Come visit Fort Collins!

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